Ask a Question forum: Dying Cardboard Palm :(

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pcarlson1115
Feb 16, 2015 5:12 PM CST
Hi Guys,

I was wondering if someone could give me some advice on how to take better care of my cardboard palm. I bought it about a month ago from a local plant store. When I purchased it, it had a thick coat of green pesticide on the leaves. The assistant at the store told me the plant came from Mexico and had to be sprayed before it entered the U.S. When I got it home I took a damp paper towel and did my best to remove it. I placed it in direct sunlight and water it about once a week. The leaves on the lower branches started to turn yellow, got very dry and then began falling off after the first week. Now the second tier of branches on the bottom is doing the same thing. What should I do? Am I watering wrong or have it in too much light? I attached a few photos if that helps. Thank you!


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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
Feb 16, 2015 7:13 PM CST
@robertduval14 might have some insight. I didn't think it was possible to kill a Cardboard Palm....
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 16, 2015 9:20 PM CST
Hello pcarlson1115 Welcome!

I also have a cardboard palm, it is outdoors, but right now I am not watering it a lot. I am thinking you might be overwatering the plant if you are watering it every week. This plant is quite drought tolerant, so it does not need that frequent watering. To be honest the only watering it got from me this winter is during the rains last Dec and this Feb. The temps are cold so it is not in that active growth period that will demand it to require frequent watering.

Whereabouts are you located? Just to get a fair idea of your planting zone.

pcarlson1115
Feb 16, 2015 9:36 PM CST
Thanks for your help! I am in Dallas, Texas.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 16, 2015 9:47 PM CST
Thanks for your location info. So just slow down the watering, keep it in bright light or some direct sun. It becomes more actively growing again during the hotter months, and that is the time I try to water once a week especially when we are hitting the triple digits here. But during the colder months, I try to keep it dry and in the most light it can get. It will bounce back eventually just give it time to dry out.
Watering once a month during winter will be enough for it.
[Last edited by tarev - Feb 16, 2015 9:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Feb 17, 2015 4:15 AM CST
tarev makes a good point. Also make sure your planting mix is well-draining and doesn't hold water.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 17, 2015 12:12 PM CST
So right on the drainage! Down here those Cardboard Palms often take a drenching every day in the hot weather. They do fine, despite what might seem like overwatering because our sandy soil drains and dries quickly.

I'd slip the plant out of the pot and take a look at the roots, to see if something's going on in there. If it is potted in soil that is too moisture-retentive, (like one of those so-called "Moisture Control" potting mixes) that might be a cause for your yellowing leaves. You might give it a new pot with fresh potting soil and add some extra Perlite or other airy, drainage promoting stuff.

I'd also try misting the leaves with a spray bottle, and maybe add a tiny pinch of soluble fertilizer to the spray. They thrive in the high humidity here, and do absorb some nutrients through the leaves as well. Palms like a little bit of Epsom Salts in their fertilizer as well. That would be about 1/4 tsp. added to a quart spray bottle. Doesnt' need much, as it is winter and the plant should be dormant or at least growing very slowly - well, they always grow fairly slowly.

Increase watering, and give light fertilizer once the weather warms up enough for it to go outside.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Feb 17, 2015 12:32 PM CST
I pretty much agree with with everyone else regarding watering your Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea) I'd also remove it from its current pot and take a look at the roots. The Cardboard Palm is a slow grower but I wonder if perhaps your plant might be root-bound and need a bit larger container?
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 17, 2015 1:12 PM CST
I would wait for Spring to do your repot, for now keep it dry. When your overnight temps are no longer going below 50F, that would be a good time to repot.

pcarlson1115
Feb 17, 2015 6:05 PM CST
Thanks everybody! I will stop watering it immediately, try spraying the leaves with the Epsom salt solution and repot it as soon as the weather warms up. Should I remove the branches that dropped the leaves or do you think that would stress out the plant too much?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
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tarev
Feb 17, 2015 7:01 PM CST
I would just leave them be. Do all the trimming of old branches later during repot, but definitely throw out any fallen leaves. Personally, I would hold back any form of spraying while it is still cold, just wait when ambient temps are more consistently warmer and your plant is outdoors to do that.

pcarlson1115
Mar 28, 2015 9:20 AM CST
Hi Everyone,

I had a few more questions about my poor cardboard palm. It was doing well at the beginning of the month and then dropped almost all of it's leaves the past two weeks. Kind of a poor picture but it looks a lot better afterwards:

Thumb of 2015-03-28/pcarlson1115/46cc52

It was in the high 70s and low 80s a few days last week so I went ahead a trimmed of the dead the branches or what I presumed were dead branches because they had that dried out husky feel to them and fell right off with the slightest of pulls. The center (bulb?) looks pretty raw now though, was I wrong to remove them?

Thumb of 2015-03-28/pcarlson1115/c63fd4
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In addition, I have been noticing yellow crusty junk coming out of the bottom drainage holes.

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I was going to plant it inside a shorter terracotta pot this afternoon. Do you guys think this is good plan? Oh and I also noticed there is yellow/orange film in the plants fuzz as well I hoping this is normal.


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Thank you for all your help! I'm a obviously quite the novice when it comes to plants because the sales assistant assured me when I purchased it they were impossible to kill Crying


Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
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tarev
Mar 30, 2015 3:28 PM CST
Your plant looks okay to me Smiling Love the really neat and clean caudex. It is okay to remove those things at the caudex, I just keep mine with them just because I find it is too darn sharp to handle! I see new leaf growth already there, so give your plant some time to acclimate again, the temps are still adjusting. Their favorite growing season is at hand, so just be patient. Smiling

That crusty thing at the bottom of the pot is just accumulated salt residue, just clean it off. The leaves does have that yellowish tinge.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Mar 30, 2015 3:33 PM CST
Your Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea) looks fine to me. I'd say just keep doing what you've been doing; the warm weather is upon us so you should will see even more new growth in the next few months!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

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